North Penn, Academy Park capture District One Championships
North Penn’s Nick Dillon (22) takes a reception to the house during the first half of the District One Class 6A Championship against Garnet Valley on Friday night. The Knights won 48-38.
TOWAMENCIN >> Quarterback Reece Udinski threw North Penn to its seventh district title Friday night, as the senior’s 430 passing yards and four scores led the way to a 48-38 win over Garnet Valley during the District One Class 6 A Championship at Crawford Stadium.
The win sends the champion Knights to a state semifinal showdown with the winner of the Parkland-St. Joseph’s Prep contest, for the right to go to Hershey.
Udinski helped the Knights pull away in the second half in front of a crowd of 6,000 fans, throwing a 15-yard touchdown pass to Nick Vasger to provide a 42-24 lead at the end of the third.
Second-half touchdown runs by Nick Dillon and Ricky Johns combined to stretch the margin to 48-31 with 8 minutes, 48 seconds left to play, before Garnet Valley defensive tackle Joe Thomas rumbled 46 yards for a touchdown on an interception return, tightening things to 48-38.
However, top-seeded North Penn got the first downs it needed to run down the clock, capturing the district title and running its unbeaten mark to 14-0 for the season. No. 10 Garnet Valley finished a magical season at 11-3.
The Jaguars, who got scores from Jacob Buttermore (27-yard run) and quarterback Nick Juliano (34-yard run), recovered from a slow start to make it a game.
Udinski started things 10-for-10, throwing touchdown passes of 65 and 83 yards to give the Knights a 14-0 lead.
On the first throw, Udinski launched a deep ball down the middle to Dillon. The defender in coverage, Sam Rudolph, was on Dillon tight but fell down as the ball got there, and Dillon made the catch and raced away for the goahead score.
On the Knights’ very next play from scrimmage, Udinski rolled right and fired a deep strike right into the hands of Johns, who caught the ball in stride and sped away to an 83-yard score and a 14-0 NP advantage.
The Knights’ third possession of the game ended the same way as the first two — in the end zone.
On a 4th-and-3 at the North Penn 35, the Knights pulled off a fake punt for the first down, as Jake Hubler took the direct snap, powered into the line but then broke it out to the right into the vacated area, running for a 30-yard gain to set the Knights up.
Four plays later, Dillon charged in from seven yards out, pushing the North Penn lead to 21-0 and Garnet Valley into a deep hole.
The Jaguars came back, though, with Juliano finding Buttermore on a 4thand-2 at the Knight 11. Buttermore escaped into the end zone for the Jaguars’ first points of the night.
Garnet Valley inched closer with a defensive score on the next series, as a crunching pass rush by the Garnet Valley front jarred the ball loose from Udinski’s grasp, and tackle Joshua Ciarrocchi converted the sack into a 30-yard return for a score, slicing the margin to 2114.
North Penn, scoring on four of its five first-half possessions, doubled its lead to 28-14 when Udinski lofted a well-aimed toss to the back of the end zone, finding Vasger for a seven-yard score.
Udinski was 12-of-13 in the first half, throwing for 259 yards and three scores in pointing the Knights towards the district crown.
North Penn’s Nick Dillon carries the ball in for his second touchdown during the first half against Garnet Valley on Friday night.